South Africa Creates Task Force To Address LGBT Hate Crimes
Written by Brandon Rolph |
Thursday, 05 May 2011
|Tags: noxolo nogwaza, corrective rape, lgbt, hate crimes, murder, lesian, task force, south africa, human rights watch|
On the heels of the “corrective rape” murder of lesbian LGBT rights campaigner Noxolo Nogwaza last month, South African’s Justice Ministry has set up a task force to determine the best practices to prevent hate crimes against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Information after the jump.
24-year-old Noxolo Nogwaza was attacked late last month after dropping off her girlfriend in Kwa-Thema township near Johannesburg. She was raped, stabbed with broken glass several times and her face pummelled with rocks, reps from Human Rights Watch said. As the frequency of these crimes against lesbians increase the term “corrective rape” is being used more and more to refer to when men attack and rape lesbians in an attempt to reverse their sexual orientation.
After Nogwaza's killing, the call to petition intensified through international attention. The task force was set up after activists worldwide signed an online petition demanding the South African government act to halt the attacks.
While police are saying they have not found any evidence of a hate crime in the case of Nogwaza, community organizer for Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee (where Nogwaza also worked) Lydia Kunu disagrees and said that, "Neighbors said they heard her attackers telling her, 'We will take the lesbian out of you. ' They were mocking her and asking her why she acts like a man."
In July, the new task force will address issues such as whether police and social workers should undergo sensitivity training, and whether rapists who target sexual minorities should get harsher sentences.
Siphokazi Mthathi, the South Africa director for Human Rights Watch believes that the laws ensure justice, but doesn't cure homophobia.
"South Africa is a very misogynist and homophobic society," she said. "We welcome the task team, but it won't solve social problems. We need to address the culture of accountability in judicial and social institutions, we need to address the attitudes…disrupt the culture of impunity."
Even in our own country, I often wonder if laws and protections are enough. At some point, do you feel that we will have to eventually confront the source of homophobia and transphobia from a religious and cultural standpoint, instead of just legislatively, in order to feel full acceptance and safety?